The new EU Solidarity Corps (ECS) initiative, which aims to create 100,000 volunteering and job placement opportunities for young people, needs proper legislation and funding, say MEPS in a resolution passed on Thursday. Its funding should under no circumstances be at the expense of the Erasmus+ or other EU programmes, they add.
“The European Solidarity Corps needs fresh money; (..) It’s funding should not be to the detriment of the existing programmes”, said Culture and Education Committee Chair Petra Kammerevert (S&D, DE), in a debate with Commissioner Tibor Navracsics on Monday in Strasbourg. “We must also ensure that regular jobs are not replaced by cheap sources of labour”, she added.
MEPs urge the EU Commission to take account of the strong interest triggered by the ESC announcement. More than 20,000 young people registered since the launch of the new website in December 2016. The number of volunteering or job opportunities made available through the ESC initiative should match this interest, so as to avoid creating frustration among young people who apply.
MEPs also asked how the ESC initiative will reinforce rather than duplicate existing successful volunteering programmes and how the formal and informal skills acquired through this programme will be recognised.
The Commission is expected to table a legislative proposal in May to follow up on its initial communication on the European Solidarity Corps in December 2016.
The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) initiative was announced by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Junker in September 2016. The Commission published a Communication in December 2016 establishing the principles, the main participation criteria and the calendar of the full implementation.
The ESC will support young people of 17 to 30 years old carrying out voluntary service for between two and twelve months in their own or another country. It will bring together two complementary strands: volunteering and occupational. It includes a wide range of activities in areas such as education and youth activities, health, social and labour market integration, assistance in providing food and non-food items, shelter construction, site construction, renovation and management, reception, support and integration of migrants and refugees, post-conflict reconciliation, environmental protection and nature conservation.
The first phase is to include the use of existing financing programmes and resources: Erasmus+ (€58 million), Employment and Social Innovation programme (€14.2 million), LIFE Programme (€2 million), Europe for Citizens programme (€3.5 million per year starting from 2018), Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, European Regional Development Fund (€1 million) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (€1.3 million from the 2016 budget and up to € 0.5 million from the 2017 budget) and Health Programme (€60,000). The second phase, taking account of input from stakeholders, is planned to be a consolidation process and robust roll-out of the ESC until 2020.